In Iowa, perhaps no politics hit home quite like the politics of food.
While films like Food Inc. and King Corn have helped familiarize us with the scope of industrial agriculture and the problems associated, American Meat, a new documentary by Graham Meriwether, tells the stories of farmers finding alternative markets for their products, offering a glimpse at what a more sustainable future might look like.
American Meat features the perspective of several Iowa farmers and agricultural professionals. It will be screened for the first time in Iowa next weekend, with three Iowa City showings.
Meriwether put the movie together with help from Leave It Better, a video-based social networking site built for sharing green ideas. He mentioned in an email an added bonus for those that come out to the local showings of his new film: “All of our screenings involve local food, Wednesday’s is food from Devotay and Atlas, Saturday’s Chipotle burritos for all in attendance.”
Chipotle is one example of a case study shown in the film. If you read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you may remember the story of Virginia farmer Joel Salatin, who made an agreement with Chipotle to provide all the pork for every Chipotle store in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, VA. Salatin is featured as American Meat examines the question of whether or not small-scale sustainable agricultural could ever produce enough food to feed the country.
While many films have relied on hidden cameras or other special investigative measures to get the truth out about industrial agriculture, this film seems to focus on the farmers caught in the middle. We are reminded of the many farmers who lean toward land stewardship even as the market seems to lean against them. If anyone you know is in that position, the success stories in this film should encourage them that a better market really is out there. With many Iowa-ag industry heads featured, they might just find in this film the name of a person they should call–someone that could not only help them clean up, but also help them get paid.
We’d be remiss if we failed to point out that the film does have an agenda: “At it’s core,” Meriwether said, “this film is about a revolution that’s going on in sustainable agriculture.” He points out that “people of all ages, and from all backgrounds are getting into farming.”
Meriwether believes that this creates “the potential for a complete shift in the way we produce our meat.” Find out exactly how by attending one of the screenings listed below. If you think it’s all hogwash, say so. A panel including Graham Meriwether will follow screenings on Wednesday and Saturday, so stick around to participate in some healthy dialogue.
Iowa City Showings:
Aug. 3 | 7 p.m.* | Englert Theatre | Tickets: $10
($20 tickets include food from Atlas & Devotay, 6 p.m. in the Englert’s Gallery Room.)
Aug. 6 | 12:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.* | Illinois Room (IMU) | Tickets: $10 (includes voucher for a free burrito from Chipotle)
*Followed by panel discussion with Graham Meriwether, Francis Thicke, Dave Murphy and Lisa Stokke of Food Democracy Now!